The third term of school will be resuming on 2 June 2020. This will occur in two phases, with the first phase being specially meant for students from graduating cohorts as well as students who need additional support. For Phase 1, which will be the first few starting weeks of the term, Primary 6, Secondary 4, and Secondary 5 students will attend school for all of the 5 weekdays. Students from other levels will meanwhile be alternating between attending Home-Based Learning (HBL) and returning physically to school for lessons each week. As for Junior College and Millennia Institute students, there will also be a rotating system in place to ensure that only half of students will be present in school at any one time.
Nevertheless, this return to school does not mean the threat of COVID-19 is no more. There will still be safe management measures in schools to protect and safeguard everyone’s health. Great care must be taken to ensure that there will be no contribution to the resurgence of the spread of the virus. Temperature will be taken daily along with extra visual and question screening for everyone in the premises. Furthermore, any student or staff who is unwell or displays flu-like symptoms or even has adult household members on Stay Home Notice will not be able to enter school. High-contact points and surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis. Students will also help out with the cleaning effort by wiping down common equipment and shared furniture like tables after use.
On a broader level, schools will also stagger the students’ arrival, dismissal and recess timings so as to limit crowding and contain any potential risk of a virus spread. Cross-interactions between classes and levels will be minimised for the same reason. Seating in classrooms will be fixed in an exam-style format instead of the commonly-used congregated group style. Canteens and any other venues used will also have this sort of spaced-out seating rule applied.
Alongside the Ministry of Education’s efforts, here are some of the things that you should and shouldn’t do in school during this COVID-19 season!
It has been found that the coronavirus could remain present on the outer layer of a face mask for up to a week. If you were to touch the front of your mask to readjust it or to take it off, there is the risk of contaminating your hands with any virus particles present on the surface, which could then contribute to infections if the hands are subsequently used to touch the eyes, nose or mouth.
Even with rigorous sanitising efforts existing, it is still best to refrain from touching any public surfaces and objects unnecessarily. It cannot be always guaranteed that a spot was not missed during cleaning. Have the habit of resting your hand on the railings? Maybe it’s time to pause such practices for now.
While the virus does not technically multiply in food and is not associated with the ingestion of food, the act of sharing utensils and touching food containers and packaging can aid the act of transmission through the hands. The virus could be present on dishes, plates, cups, wrappers, spoons, forks, or even on food itself if it has not been heated above 60 degrees Celsius. This could be a scenario because not all food consumed in school will be that constantly warm.
The fight against COVID-19 requires a sustained whole-of-nation effort involving numerous different stakeholders and various sectors and industries. The least you can do to play your part in breaking the chain of transmission is to take and observe any school rules issued seriously and promptly.
Despite all the novel changes to school life due to the novel coronavirus, you should not forget about the importance of adapting and focusing on your studies! Home-Based Learning should not be misused as an opportunity to skimp on doing actual real work, nor should adjustments to procedures and norms in schools be used as a convenient excuse to not study.
Wearing a mask is good and all, but it is only truly effective if it is worn properly. In an experiment conducted by scientists from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), it was found that most, if not all, cough or sneeze droplets are blocked from getting out into the air or landing on someone else with any type of mask worn properly over both the nose and the mouth. The goal is to have a snug fit, not loose fit, where gaps between the face and the mask are completely minimised.
The simple act of frequently and properly washing your hands with water and soap, even when not visibly dirty, is one of the most fundamental forms of protection against infection. If soap and water are not immediately available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser as the next best alternative for quickly reducing the amount of germs present on your hands. Besides, wearing a mask will not be helpful if you have touched the inner surface of it with contaminated hands. Do particularly remember to wash your hands before putting on your mask or after taking it off!
Wearing masks alone is not a silver bullet for stopping the pandemic. Maintaining safe distancing is also a highly effective measure that should be used together with the above recommendations. A good guideline is to stay a distance of at least 2 arms’ length away from others, and not to gather in groups. Save those acts of physical contact like handshakes and hugs for after COVID-19!
While there are general measures that schools are required to follow, schools may still differ slightly in some additional practices. It is best to simply follow whatever your school has decided on; there is no need to compare rules and information with that from other schools.
But of course, with all the changes, never be afraid to reach out for help if you need to. Home-Based Learning may be foreign to you and may not entirely suit your learning style – in that case do approach your teachers for support and assistance. If you’re feeling stressed, your teachers will be there for you as well.
As always, this list is not exhaustive. Let us all be socially responsible and regard our role in combating the virus with great importance.
FamilyTutor hopes you enjoy this partial back-to-school period where you at least get to meet your friends and talk to them physically (though with your mask on!).
For your information, the ‘Current Affairs’ series covers the latest news and developments in the realm of education, added with a dash of discussion and a sprinkle of opinion!
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